JERUSALEM (Apr. 17)
Ephraim Eldar, Israel’s Consul in Lisbon, will be named the first Ambassador to Portugal, sources here said today, following the joint announcement yesterday in Amsterdam regarding diplomatic relations between the two countries. The Israeli Consulate has been functioning quietly in Lisbon since the Salazar regime but there were never full-scale diplomatic ties between Portugal and Israel.
However, in his first policy speech following the installation of his regime, Portugal’s Prime Minister Mario Soarez promised to normalize relations with both the People’s Republic of China and Israel, Subsequently, he had several meetings with Israeli leaders. The joint statement in Amsterdam spoke of stepped up cooperation between the two countries in all fields.
Israel’s Minister of Agriculture Aharon Uzan, is to visit Portugal shortly at the head of a group of experts to implement certain projects agreed to between the two countries. He will be returning the visit to Israel by his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Cardozo who has since resigned from office. But Portugal’s Iberian neighbor, Spain, appears to have retreated from its earlier interest in normalizing relations with Israel, apparently under strong Arab pressure, sources here admit. After the death of Francisco France the Madrid government indicated that it wanted to re-establish diplomatic ties with Mexico and enter into relations with Israel. The Mexican ties were announced earlier this month but no moves have been made toward Israel.